Nashville’s Nutcracker is what holiday dreams are made of, and it’s quickly become one of Nashville’s most beloved Christmas traditions. The production itself is a huge undertaking, with more than 200 dancers per performance. Coordinating so many cast members and getting them the information they need can be an extremely complicated task, but thankfully, the Ballet’s Director of Sales and Marketing Jan Morrison found the perfect solution for getting the the right messages out to the right people: dynamic content.
We recently asked her to share her story about how dynamic content helped the Nashville Ballet better communicate with each of their youth cast members (and their parents!) and successfully put on an enchanting, captivating show this year.
How does email fit into your communication strategy for Nashville's Nutcracker?
We’ve been putting on Nashville’s Nutcracker during the holiday season every year for the past eight years. We host open auditions in the community for children, and if they make the performance, we call them our youth cast.
Before this year, every communication to the youth cast and their families had been on paper. All the parents had to come to a mandatory meeting where they got this massive folder – and oh, and did I mention that there are 200 kids involved in all of this?
It gets even more complicated because each kid is cast in a different role, and we also have multiple casts. So we might only have five lambs in the show, but there are three casts of five lambs. And we only have 5 costumes. But we have 13 performances. So we have to coordinate this giant puzzle of which-kid-needs-to-be-where-at-what-time, and there’s a lot of communication that goes into that.
So how did dynamic content help you put the pieces together?
The first time we utilized Emma’s Dynamic Content feature was to notify the youth cast of their roles. In previous years, we manually sent 200 letters that said, “Congratulations! You’ve been cast as a baby mouse (or lamb, bon bon, etc.) in Nashville’s Nutcracker!”
So this year I said, “Hey people, it’s 2015 – can we please not do that anymore?” So we ditched the paper entirely, created one Dynamic Content email, and sent everybody tailored information based on the role they were cast in. We changed the copy to reflect their role and each person saw an image of a kid in that role’s costume from last year. We had 12 different versions since there are that many roles. And it was all really cute and really successful.
It worked so well that we ended up doing a second Dynamic Content mailing. Some our roles, even though they’re technically youth cast, are filled by dancers 16 years old or older. They need different information because they’re probably driving themselves, they’re parking, and I’m communicating directly with that person instead of to a parent. So for the roles that we knew were age 16+, we tailored the email copy to speak directly to that recipient. And under 16, we communicated as if it were to a parent. So we were able to send one email that communicated to each recipient in the right way and got them all the right information.
Any plans for using Dynamic Content in 2016?
I like to personalize and tailor my communications as much as possible, because by doing that, we’ve seen our open rates and click rates increase exponentially. As of right now, our average open rate is 44%… and we send a lot of email.
One thing we try to do is market performances directly to audiences who have attended something similar in the past. Let’s say we’re doing a contemporary show – I’m going to pull all my ticket buyers from the last three contemporary shows, and then I put them all in a list that says which performance they went to. So then I can segment and send emails that say, “Hey, thanks for coming to Attitude in 2012. I think you’re going to love Attitude in 2016 because it features X, Y, and Z.”
All we’ve done in the past is put references like that in the content body, but what I’d like to experiment with next is adding imagery from the actual performance they attended. So they can say, “Oh yeah, I do remember that – I remember that’s what the poster looked like, the set, the costumes.” People connect so much better when there’s imagery involved, so I can’t wait to use dynamic content to play more with the imagery each recipient gets in their mailings.